As MNOs and Towercos deal with increasing numbers of towers and equipment, they are feeling the pain of inefficient software tools and processes in managing their passive tower infrastructure. They are looking for software solutions (see also blog post “The Build vs Buy Software Decision”) which will make their teams efficient and allow them to operate at scale.
This means we are seeing many Requests For Proposal (RFPs) about ClickOnSite for passive site infrastructure management. Therefore, it was with great interest that we read the TM Forum critique of the current RFP process in the telecoms industry “Time to kill the RFP? Reinventing IT procurement for the 2020s”. An excellent summary of the full report was written by Light Reading under the title “RFP Process No Longer Fit for Purpose – Report”.
ITD is a bridge from the traditional/established way that telecoms have worked, to using technology to significantly improve their operational efficiency, and therefore business bottom line. ClickOnSite is not only an excellent software solution for managing tasks and information, but also a key part of the digital transformation to more efficient processes at our customers.
There are many interesting ideas in the full report. Not every suggestion will apply to every company or situation. And we do not believe the RFP process in telecom procurement will change overnight. But there is good food for thought in the report for any buyer or supplier in the telecom industry to read and consider from their perspective.
Among the key concepts in the TM Forum analysis that we have built into ITD and ClickOnSite, are:
The TM Forum analysis cites the common duration of the RFP process as 12-18 months.
- Time-frames like this do not reflect the fast moving software and business world. Software and business have become iterative and agile: the process should reflect that.
There is a strong desire among large CSPs to reduce the amount of customization required.
- Customization eats up time, and costs more, from implementation through ongoing management (i.e. updating and/or changes). ClickOnSite is low-code, which allows non-technical people to configure the functions rather than customize. This has benefits all around: time, cost, flexibility, customer-satisfaction.
Understandably, the reason companies take so much time to choose a supplier is because the costs of changing a software solution are so high: they don’t want to make a poor first choice.
It makes business sense over the long-term to find a software supplier who is a partner you rely on, like a specialized extension of your own IT department.
So how to make a solid choice relatively quickly?
TM Forum recommends doing Proofs of Concept (POCs). We agree with that, and it is something we often do. However, POCs take time and energy on both sides, so even that step should only be taken when both customer and service provider are confident that the chances of success are positive.
ITD believes the best first filter for a company looking for a partner is low-tech:
- look at the longevity of the supplier’s clients
- talk to the suppliers’ references
Doing this as a first step will get you much closer, more quickly, to a short-list of suppliers/partners.
Closely related to partnership is agility.
Naturally, we practice agility in the software development sense of sprints/iterations and regular releases of ClickOnSite.
But we also practice agility in terms of integrating with our customers’ IT systems: ClickOnSite is flexible to interoperate via API with basically any external programs/system.
Lastly, we are agile in terms of customer support and… well, partnership: ITD believes that above all, if our customers are happy and successful, our company will be successful. We are proactive in our communications to/from our customers. And it works, which is why we are also very proud to share our customer list which shows longevity and little churn among our customers.
As the RFP process in telecoms evolves — similar to the overall trend of digital transformation — ITD will be right there with our customers and prospects.